My brothers in the Park Hotel prison in Carlton, Melbourne, are living in a hell that is unimaginable to those of us outside. Of the forty-five refugees held in those rooms without fresh air, twenty have so far tested positive to Covid-19. Each of those men is labouring under great pressure on their minds and spirits, the fear that no one will move them to a safe place to stop the transmission and to treat the sick.
While it may be sensible in our climate-threatened world to regard cars as unrestrainable pests choking and exhausting the planet, cars are routinely celebrated in popular cinema as portals for escaping drab reality, their sleek bright surfaces offer a glistening promise of transcendence. Yet Titane conveys a passion for automobiles surging beyond mere commodity fetishism, and an acute hostility toward people.
A kingfisher swallowed a cane toad near Kakadu | A woman in south-east Queensland saw rainbow lorikeets fall from the sky | A flock of brolga fished for frogs in an algal bloom | Just outside Cairns, a bush-stone curlew bounced off the bonnet of a speeding ute | In Broome, a grey nomad pulled a blue-faced finch from the radiator of his 4WD
Reading the politics of Rooney’s novels articulates a central problem of modern life: our personal anxieties and insecurities as individuals are always intricately part of the estrangement and disenchantment of the modern, social world.
Problematic places have stories to tell and there are many ways to do so. When outsiders tell those stories, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It would be a dull monochromatic world indeed, void of empathy and intellectual engagement, if we could only write of what we know of personally. But the outsider with the capacity to speak, publish, and represent carries a special burden of responsibility.